Five to Follow MLB Betting: Thursday September 18, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 9/17/2014
I am interested to see how the Los Angeles Angels play things out over the final nine games or so of the regular season. Do they keep pushing to ensure that top overall seed in baseball -- remember, the AL hosts the World Series -- or do they prefer to rest guys and not care all that much were Baltimore to catch them for that No. 1 seed? It's an interesting choice for Mike Scioscia. I'm a believer that if you are playing well you keep going, but at the same time make sure your rotation is set up for that first playoff series. Here's a look at L.A.'s game on Thursday and four other interesting matchups.
Mariners at Angels (-105, 6)
Clearly the best pitching matchup on Thursday's schedule. The Angels start Jered Weaver, who will be their guy in Game 1 of any postseason series. Weaver (17-8, 3.50) thus may not get a shot at 20 wins as he could get just one more start after this. The Halos have won six of his past seven starts. He is 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in three starts this year vs. Seattle. Clearly this game is vastly more important for the M's, and they have the right guy going in Cy Young favorite Felix Hernandez (14-5, 2.14). King Felix has allowed two runs or fewer in three straight starts. He is 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA this year in three starts vs. the Angels. Mike Trout is a rare guy who hits Hernandez well, batting .383 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 47 at-bats.
Key trends: Seattle is 4-0 in Hernandez's past four vs. L.A. The Angels are 12-2 in Weaver's past 14 at home vs. Seattle. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Felix's past six vs. the Halos.
Early lean: I lean Seattle here regardless. However, if the Halos clinch the AL West on Wednesday, then I really love the M's. I could see Weaver getting bumped if that's the case.
Rangers at A's (-225, 7.5)
Day getaway games after night matchups generally favor the home team as it is because the road team has to travel out. This game, the only matinee on the schedule, screams that Texas could care less as the Rangers are playing out the string with mostly scrubs and minor leaguers and they have to fly out after. Meanwhile, the A's still have everything to play for. Nick Martinez (3-11, 4.93) goes for the Rangers. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in his past three starts, but Texas has lost them all. He has a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings vs. Oakland this year. Sonny Gray (13-8, 3.18) has had two straight strong outings after scuffling for a while. He is 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA vs. Texas.
Key trends: Texas is 1-11 in Martinez's past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. Oakland is 4-1 in Gray's past five at home vs. teams with a losing record. The over is 4-0 in Gray's past four vs. the Rangers.
Early lean: Take Oakland on the runline.
Blue Jays at Yankees (-110, 8.5)
The clock is about to run out on these two teams as the Yankees begin their final homestand of the Derek Jeter Era. The Yankees ruled out Martin Prado for the rest of the season on Tuesday, and you may not see Mark Teixeira the rest of the way, either. He is battling wrist pain, the same wrist that limited him to 15 games in 2013. Tex is hitting just .179 with four homers since the All-Star Break. He's probably never going to be the same again. The Bombers start Shane Greene (5-3, 3.56), who seems to have done enough to get a shot at the rotation next season. He took a no-decision on July 27 at home vs. Toronto, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (13-12, 3.84) has had four straight quality starts, with the Jays winning the past three. He threw 6.2 shutout innings vs. New York in his only start against the Bombers. Jeter is 2-for-17 career off him with six strikeouts.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-7 in Dickey's past eight Thursday starts. The Yankees have lost five straight series openers. The under is 5-0 in Dickey's past five vs. New York.
Early lean: Under at -110.
Indians at Astros (+114, 8)
Probably my favorite big-league player right now who doesn't play on the team I follow is Houston second baseman Jose Altuve. The guy is 5-foot-5 but is hitting .343 and should win the AL batting title barring a big slump. He broke the Astros' franchise record for hits, held by Craig Biggio, on Tuesday. And he has 52 steals and just 51 strikeouts. What a terrific player and only 24. Altuve is 1-for-3 in his career off Thursday Indians starter Danny Salazar (6-7, 4.22). He pitched well vs. Houston on Aug. 23, allowing one earned over six innings. Houston was mocked for the contract it gave Scott Feldman (8-11, 3.95) this offseason, but he has been pretty solid. Feldman hasn't faced Cleveland this year.
Key trends: Cleveland is 5-1 in Salazar's past six vs. teams with a losing record. Houston is 3-10 in Feldman's past 13 vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 4-1 in Salazar's past five on the road.
Early lean: Prefer Feldman over Salazar, so lean Houston as a dog.
Diamondbacks at Rockies (-105, 10.5)
I'd be willing to bet the farm that this game is the highest scoring of them all on Thursday and that it's not close. The total is certainly the highest, by two runs. And if you were well acquainted with the two starting pitchers in the matchup before the season, you are more of a baseball expert than I am. Lefty Vidal Nuno (2-11, 4.58) goes for the Snakes. He was shelled for six runs in five innings last time out by San Diego and still hasn't won since being acquired from the Yankees. Nuno did pitch well at home on Aug. 30 vs. Colorado in holding the Rockies to a run and two hits over eight innings. However, the Diamondbacks were shut out. Left-hander Yohan Flande (0-5, 5.04) comes in from the bullpen for this start for Colorado. Flande has a 5.73 ERA in his eight starts. He hasn't faced Arizona.
Key trends: Arizona is 0-5 in Nuno's past five series-opening starts. Colorado is 6-1 in its past seven at home against lefties. Arizona has won four straight at Coors Field.
Early lean: I can't go under now can I? I do like the Rockies as well.
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